Metro

US on pace for deadliest driving year in decade

Motor vehicle crashes killed about 19,100 people nationwide during the first six months of this year.

Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star/Associated Press

Motor vehicle crashes killed about 19,100 people nationwide during the first six months of this year.

Motor vehicle crashes killed about 19,100 people nationwide during the first six months of this year, continuing an alarming surge in roadway fatalities and putting America on pace for its deadliest driving year in nearly a decade, according to preliminary estimates from a new study.

The death tally was 9 percent higher than it was during the first six months of 2015 and 18 percent greater than the first six months of 2014, when the upward trend began, according to the National Safety Council, a nonprofit created by Congress to promote safety.

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Massachusetts was no exception to the disturbing trend.

An estimated 179 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes statewide in the first half of this year, 20 percent more than each of the previous two years. There were 149 motor vehicle deaths in the same period last year and 146 the previous year, the council said.

National Safety Council

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“Our complacency is killing us,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and chief executive of the council, said in a statement. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”

Nationwide, 2.2 million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of this year.

The council said that an improving economy, shrinking unemployment rates, and lower gas prices are believed to be fueling the increase in deaths. That’s because those elements all typically lead to more traffic, as more people commute to work and can afford to drive farther and take vacations.

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But even when compared with how much more people are driving, traffic fatalities are up.

During the first half of 2014, there were 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled nationwide. The rate was 1.3 during the first six months of this year.

The states with the largest percentage increases in motor vehicle deaths in the first half of the year were all in New England

Motor vehicle deaths totaled 31 in the first half of the year in Vermont, an increase of 63 percent from the same period a year before; New Hampshire had 61 deaths, up by 61 percent; and Connecticut saw 138, an increase of 45 percent.

Elsewhere in the region, Rhode Island had 23 deaths, up by 10 percent, and Maine had 63, up by 2 percent.

Eight states, and Washington, D.C., had a decline in motor vehicle deaths in the first half of this year compared with the same span in 2015. One state, South Dakota, saw no change.

Driving deaths by state
All figures are considered to be preliminary estimates.
State 2016 deaths 2015 2014 Change 2015 to 2016 2014 to 2016
TOTAL U.S. 19,100 17,530 16,251 9% 18%
Alabama 479 381 412 26% 16%
Alaska 34 27 32 26% 6%
Arizona 473 451 382 5% 24%
Arkansas 263 237 207 11% 27%
California 1,702 1,566 1,302 9% 31%
Colorado 254 236 200 8% 27%
Connecticut 138 95 119 45% 16%
Delaware 60 47 65 28% -8%
Dist. of Columbia 9 10 13 -10% -31%
Florida 1,590 1,441 1,114 10% 43%
Georgia 701 657 522 7% 34%
Hawaii 48 52 54 -8% -11%
Idaho 115 84 79 37% 46%
Illinois 494 442 399 12% 24%
Indiana 383 356 289 8% 33%
Iowa 182 134 133 36% 37%
Kansas 195 149 184 31% 6%
Kentucky 373 326 300 14% 24%
Louisiana 314 330 275 -5% 14%
Maine 63 62 60 2% 5%
Maryland 231 224 188 3% 23%
Massachusetts 179 149 146 20% 23%
Michigan 462 409 407 13% 14%
Minnesota 173 187 149 -7% 16%
Mississippi 326 288 286 13% 14%
Missouri 410 383 348 7% 18%
Montana 77 72 79 7% -3%
Nebraska 100 109 108 -8% -7%
Nevada 141 147 134 -4% 5%
New Hampshire 61 38 38 61% 61%
New Jersey 272 245 267 11% 2%
New Mexico 187 131 169 43% 11%
New York 411 - - - -
North Carolina 668 634 531 5% 26%
North Dakota 45 61 50 -26% -10%
Ohio 505 499 425 1% 19%
Oklahoma 322 303 319 6% 1%
Oregon 217 204 128 6% 70%
Pennsylvania 569 552 518 3% 10%
Rhode Island 23 21 23 10% 0%
South Carolina 458 445 367 3% 25%
South Dakota 44 44 67 0% -34%
Tennessee 502 437 453 15% 11%
Texas 1,824 1,643 1,668 11% 9%
Utah 133 129 108 3% 23%
Vermont 31 19 17 63% 82%
Virginia 348 344 308 1% 13%
Washington 253 235 225 8% 12%
West Virginia 109 119 107 -8% 2%
Wisconsin 277 254 214 9% 29%
Wyoming 42 66 65 -36% -35%
SOURCE: National Safety Council

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele
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